data-mobile="true" data-tablet-width="1100" data-tablet-small-width="840" data-mobile-width="640">
Log in

T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

The First Purge Should be the Last. [MOVIE REVIEW]

It’s sometime in the future. The First Purge, the fourth in the series, shows how the idea began of having 12 hours in which it is legal to commit all crimes, including murder. A new right-wing party called the New Founding Fathers (NFF) initiates the concept supposedly to allow people to release frustrations building up from everyday life. Staten Island is chosen as the test site for the first purge. Ultimately, NFF’s true motive comes to light.

The First Purge is sickening. And, similar to Book Club, The First Purge is Dead on Arrival. The problems are many. First, it assumes that viewers don’t know much about Staten Island, including that its population is almost 80% percent white, mainly Irish and Italian Catholics. This film focuses on a low-income housing development and the surrounding communities which are black, who comprise about 10% of the Island’s population. There are more Hispanics in Staten Island than there are blacks. If this community did exist it would include whites and Hispanics.

Next, white screenwriter, James DeMonaco, who’s from Brooklyn, obviously did little research, as he creates scenes and dialogue based upon how he believes black people act. The film opens with a conversation between a blue-eyed, intellectual, medical male staff person and a dark-skinned, scared face, inarticulate black man with badly stained teeth.

It’s loaded with stereotypes. There’s a lot of the N-word, black street gangs (which is NOT a huge issue in Staten Island), heavy drug dealing, and hoochie mamas. And during the purge, again when all crimes are legal, rather than finding safe havens, they show black people dancing in the streets and partying. Since sex is the only thing black people ever think about, the film features a couple in plain sight, getting busy on the top of a car.

Further, in DeMonaco’s black world, even the most decent, peace-loving African American woman, is familiar with and knows how to use a gun!

Even though the film ultimately shows this community is the victim of malevolent forces, the way it is displayed, it justifies the disdain and fear of low-income urban residents that some people harbor.

The First Purge gets a “C” for cast diversity. It’s a largely African American troupe. Marisa Tomei is one of the few white actors in the film. She plays the sociologist who originally comes up with the purge idea. The film’s grade reflects its misrepresentation of the demographics of story’s location.

There are two characteristics of bad films. Both occurred at the screening of The First Purge: viewers laugh at serious dialogue not all intended to be funny. And people leave before it’s over.

The First Purge is rated “R” for strong disturbing violence throughout, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use. And is 99 minutes in length.

This 4th of July week, purge your mind of any notions of seeing The First Purge.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom- It stumbles but eventually gets up!

The Jurassic World Theme Park has been closed for four years to the public but the dinosaurs thrive on Isla Nublar without paying onlookers. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island when a volcano threatens to end all life there. Owen is especially concerned about Blue, the raptor he bonded within the last Jurassic edition.

While saving the prehistoric creatures from a threat from nature, Owen and Claire learn of manmade threats to destroy the animals completely and another which would exploit them for financial gain.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom struggles to develop underlying plotlines when the entire purpose of these films is to showcase the dinosaurs. The stories are weak, predictable and plagued by a number of “coming out of nowhere rescues” by both humans and creatures.

Returning stars, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, add stability and familiarity to the film. But among the human cast, the real star is young Isabella Sermon, who plays Maisie Lockwood, whose grandfather, Benjamin helped create the dinosaur-cloning technology. Isabella is amazing!
For cast diversity, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom gets a B+. One of the featured stars, in addition to Pratt and Howard, is a young black actor, Justice Smith playing Franklin, a nerdy, easily frightened, computer tech. There are also other people of color in supporting and minor roles.

Ultimately, the Jurassic Park Series is about the special effects and the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t disappoint. And that’s enough to garner a “See It!” rating.

The film is PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril and is 129 minutes in length.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also hints at the next film in the series.

Don’t miss, Deadpool 2 [MOVIE REVIEW]

In Deadpool 2, the 11th installment of the X-Men series, thing are going well for Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) until he loses a loved one. When he attempts to join her on the other side, he learns that he has to do more good in this world before he can move to the next. His first step is to assist a young, troubled mutant. However, Cable (Josh Brolin) gets in the way of that effort leading Wilson to put together a new team of X-men to fight his old nemesis.

Critiquing Deadpool 2 is easy. If you like the mutants’ series, this episode will not disappoint. And Deadpool 2 gets a See It! rating. It has all the battles, humorous dialogue and over the top action scenes which made the first Deadpool film a success. Ryan Reynolds breathes an everyman type of charm into the lead character. He’s funny and flawed which makes him more credible.

One downside of the mutant series is the lack of racial diversity. The main characters are overwhelmingly white males. However, the creators do embrace black women characters. There’s Storm who was played by Halle Berry in four of the X-Men films. In Deadpool 2, Leslie Uggams returns as Blind Al, Wilson’s confidant. And joining his new team in this film is the half German and half African-American, Zazie Beetz. Her mutant skills are exceptional marksmanship and hand-to-hand skills, and probability-altering powers.

However, due to the overall lack of cast diversity, Deadpool 2, receives a “C” for cast diversity.

It’s rated “R” (for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material) and is 111 minutes in length.

Ultimately, Deadpool 2 is a See It!

Don’t Join The Book Club [MOVIE REVIEW]

They’ve been friends since college, and get together once a month to discuss the book of the month. Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) runs a five-star hotel and only gets involved with men she could never fall in love with. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still recovering from her divorce of almost two decades. Carol's (Mary Steenburgen) marriage slumps after 35 years. The book of the month, the salacious 50 Shades of Grey has the friends reexamining their own situations.

The Book Club is simply not worth the time. It’s Dead on Arrival. First, the characters are not interesting. Even for a comedy, they simply lack the depth to make this film worthwhile. It’s not the performers; it’s the weak script. Further, while the four women are all supposed to be the approximately same age, having attended college at the same time, it’s obvious that Mary Steenburgen is younger than her costars and is in fact 15 years younger than Jane Fonda.

There’s also not a credible subplot. Diane’s love interest Mitchell (Andy Garcia) is obviously younger than her (10 years in real life). He’s a pilot whose invention reducing wind drag on airplanes has made him wealthy but for some unexplained reason, he still works as a commercial pilot. Thus, this rich guy who’s in a profession where he meets plenty of women decides to pursue a much older, very ordinary widow. Is this possible? Of course. Is this likely? Of course NOT!

Speaking of Garcia, he is the only one keeping this film from getting a D- minus in cast diversity. This Hispanic (Cuban) actor has a starring role in what would otherwise be one of the least diverse films I have seen in years.

The Book Club is rated PG-13 (for sex-related material throughout and for language) and is 104 minutes.

Ultimately, it is sad that such talented actors are bound together in this losing production. It’s Dead on Arrival.

Subscribe to this RSS feed